molecular geneticist
Science, mathematics and statistics

Career outlook for geneticist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would do scientific research to understand and treat diseases in people, animals and plants.

Genes contain the information that controls a living organism’s appearance, how it survives and how it behaves in its environment.

You’d use this information to make discoveries in a wide range of fields from medicine to agriculture, making discovering that improve health and wellbeing or help tackle climate change. You could work in research, teaching, industry or the NHS.

Depending where you work you might:

  • Develop crops that are resistant to disease and drought
  • Find the genes that cause disease in people, animals and plants
  • Chart animal populations and conserve wildlife
  • Research and develop new drugs and gene therapies
  • Apply genetics to archaeology to study past populations and individuals
  • Diagnose genetic diseases and trace their histories within families
  • Teach genetics at a university

You would:

  • Use laboratory techniques and experiments to analyse samples of genetic tissue
  • Record and interpret the results of experiments and tests
  • Use data and statistics to develop computer models of genes
  • Write reports for other professionals
  • Report and publish your findings in scientific papers
  • Supervise, train and mentor other laboratory staff

If you teach at a university you’d give lectures and supervise students.

If you work in the bioinformatics field you’d use computers to analyse information and model genes digitally.

Working conditions


Your hours will vary depending on the organisation you work for. In a research or academic setting you will usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. You may also be expected to work occasional evenings and weekends in order to meet deadlines. In other settings such as healthcare or industry, you may work on a shift pattern which can include evenings and weekends.


Experimental and practical research usually takes place in a laboratory environment, where you can spend a lot of time using scientific instruments such as microscopes. If your job includes a lot of data analysis and computerised modelling you will spend a lot of your time working at a computer. In a laboratory you will be expected to wear protective clothing such as a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Verbal communication
  • Written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a subject such as genetics, biology, biochemistry or life sciences.

Most undergraduate courses ask for at least four Highers at B or above (SCQF level 6). Some universities may require AABB (first sitting) for entry.

You can also enter a degree with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8). With Advanced Highers, HNC or HND qualification you may enter the second or third year of some degree courses.  

Many people who do this job also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) (SCQF level 11) or a doctoral degree (SCQF level 12) in a relevant subject.

Some universities offer an integrated masters (SCQF level 11) combining a degree and masters courses. Entry is the same as for a degree.

Useful subjects

  • Biology (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Chemistry (required by most courses)
  • English (required by most courses)
  • Other science subjects
  • Technologies subjects

Helpful to have

Practical experience is useful and can be gained through Skills for Work Laboratory Science (SCFQ level 5), Foundation Apprenticeship Laboratory Sciences (SCQF level 6), or through work-based qualifications such as the Modern Apprenticeship in Life Sciences and the Related Science Industries (SCQF level 5/7/8).

With these qualifications you could work in a related technician role. You're likely to need further qualifications, such as a degree or postgraduate qualification (studied full-time or part-time while in work), to progress to a geneticist role.